Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Failure to Communicate, Part II


So, I had a visit with Rory, and in a matter of a couple minutes, we blew right past that stuff represented in the picture up top and got right down to the nitty-gritty. I have my glitch, which he and I both see; he has his, and I think maybe I see that a tad better than he does ...

But, the point is, of course, that sitting across the table and talking face-to-face gives you a raft of communications gear you don't get over the phone or in print. The gestures, the facial expressions, the tone, the body language, the pheromones, even these altogether aren't perfect, but they are worlds better than the words on the page alone.

And once again, we find we agree more than disagree. The points at which we butt heads concern control and chaos, and where we draw the lines. (Basically, if I had to parse it a few words, I'm uptight, and he's a loose cannon ...)

We may not ever see eye-to-eye, but understanding where the other guy is coming from makes it easier to maintain civil discourse. In the distance, you can see a bridge you might cross someday. At least it is possible.

Yes, of course, if he disagrees with me, why, he just hasn't seen the light, he'll come around, give him time.

I believe that statement might conceivably apply to both of us.

He's one of the good guys, part of the solution, and not the problem, and that always cuts a fellow some slack in my book. Plus he has dogs. Still, that doesn't mean I won't continue trying to show him the error of his ways.

Or, I suspect, vice-versa.

9 comments:

Dan Gambiera said...

You talked about the Presidential platforms?

Dan Moran said...

Interestingly enough -- there's a long-term perception that text is limiting, that it doesn't communicate well enough, and that this is a big chunk of what causes misunderstandings online.

I think that's a minor factor. I think in most cases text is too clear -- it lays out disagreements in stark fashion, without the softening that comes through in person. "I think that your support of X is shameful" is crystal clear and impossible to misunderstand -- but coming from a friend who's saying it in a gentle tone, patting you on the arm, maintaining eye contact, hurrying up with "But I love you despite your stupidity" when he sees the dismay in your expression ... all that's missing online.

Clarity is the cause of more disagreements online than lack of clarity, in my experience.

Bobbe Edmonds said...

>"I believe that statement might conceivably apply to both of us."<

You honestly think the world will last long enough?

You know our daystar is scheduled to go supernova in about 5 billion years. Call me skeptical...

Ed said...

Don't be so negative about the sun...


we'll get hit by something big first...

of course that will be enlightenment...


then a big rock.

Kai Jones said...

Dan wrote: I think in most cases text is too clear

I think your example is poorly chosen, then; the plain text isn't clear about the entire communication, since some of the communication is taking place in vocal tone, expression, and physical touch. It's much harder to incorporate that part of the communication in text, and therefore text is limited, not more clear.

Steve Perry said...

Don't make me hurt you, Kid. I have that picture of you and the donkey ...

Steve Perry said...

Exact and inexact aren't the big factors, I don't think, Dan.
The limit on the form is both -- too sharp, too fuzzy. The point is that words on paper don't allow as much useful communication as personal contact.

Most of the time, among non-writers, I've found it to be fuzzy -- they tend not to be so anally-retentive about terms and definitions -- "hopefully" does not mean "I hope," -- and what I'm thinking when I hear somebody say "red" isn't always the same as what they say when they speak of that color.

All forms of communication have limits; the more tools you can bring to bear, the better the possibility of achieving clarity. Listen to a writer who is a good public speaker read a story s/he wrote, and you get a much different experience than reading it yourself, even though the words are the same.

Dan Moran said...

Fair enough -- among people who can write, the problem's usually not due to misunderstanding, but to a lack of softening ... IMO, YMMV.
I grant you, people who can't write have a different set of issues communicating online.

I'm nearly done w/Dreadnaught. I like it quite a bit.

Dan Gambiera said...

Speech allows immediate back-and-forth and a layer of emotional communication that the traditional text mode does not. ("traditional text mode" because text messaging and chatrooms are closer to speech that way)

I write a letter.
It's all there in one stark lump. You right a letter back.
Ditto.

With speech I say something and don't get two hundred words into it before noticing how you're reacting either because you say something with your mouth or your body. There's room for a lot of small corrections and modifications of the message in response to the personal situation.